2006 News Archive
(January - March)
Railroad asks to sell bonds to improve tracks - 3/23/06
The Associated Press
Kenai Peninsula Online

The Alaska Railroad Corporation would sell revenue bonds "to get a safer railroad faster" under a bill that was advanced to the Senate Floor.

Railroad President and CEO Pat Gamble told the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that the railroad has been working for the past 10 years to cover deferred maintenance needs that have been building since the 1950s.

[See story]

Two new cars for ARR - 3/17/06
Submitted by an anonymous source

ARR 18434 E FB6 - center beam bulkhead flats for loading spenard builders lumber from Anch to Fbks
ARR 18431 E FB6
Equipment ID: ARR 18431 AAR Mech Desig: FBC
AAR Car Type: F483 Kind: FB6 Description: BULKHEAD, 59' TO 60'
Owner Mark . . : ARR Ownership Code . . : R Lessee Owner: CEFX
Transportation Code: D Trans Condition Code: Pool Number :
Month Built/Rebuilt: 12 Year New . . . . : 5 Year Rebuilt: OT3

Inside: Length: 73 ' 0 " Width: 9 ' 0 " Height: 3 ' 6 "
Outside: Length: 80 ' 5 " Width: 9 ' 8 " Height: 15 ' 6 "
Clearance Code : C Height of Extreme Width : 0 ' 0 "

Cubic Capacity . : Load Limit(000's): 224 Ttl Wgt on Rail(000'
Tare Weight(00's): 622 Weighed Date Grade: Gallons
Total Weight for Overweight Calculation: 286,200

Air Brake Test : PKX Test Date : 10/27/05 Early Warning Ind:
Bearings/Brakes: E Journal Size: F Axles: 4 Wheel Size:
Truck Type . . : E Truck Center Length . . : 60 ' "
Side Door: Type: Width: 0 ' 0 " Height: 0 ' 0 "

Ex-ARR 600 located - 3/16/06
Submitted by Stewart Sterling
Just found out more about ARR 600. It is being moved to 7830 Old Seward, which is Al's Alaskan Inn. It will mounted on a foundation (or Pilings) minus trucks and used as an Arctic entrance to the business. It is going through the legal process of permitting now and will be moved as soon as everything is OK'd. Al's is a long established Bar/nightclub/Inn/motel that has been here as long as I can remember. When they are done moving it I will get a photo for you.
Mayors balk at railroad's reroute plan - 3/14/06
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The Alaska Railroad Corp. is advancing a plan to eliminate train travel through Fort Wainwright Army Post by laying track around the perimeter of the base. But area mayors are asking the corporation to focus instead on eliminating all train traffic through both the post and the city of Fairbanks.

[See story]

Career after career, Sheffield still going strong - 3/7/06
By Melissa Campbell
Alaska Journal of Commerce

Former Gov. Bill Sheffield's career with the state was long from over when he left the governor's office. The former hotel owner has been integrally involved with the Port of Anchorage and the Alaska Railroad long into his "retirement" years.

Former Gov. Bill Sheffield has a lot he wants to see get done before he finally retires.

[See story]

Sitting on more coal than it can sell, Usibelli is itching to grow - 3/5/06
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

HEALY -- Anyone want to buy some coal? It's subbituminous, so it's not the best quality, but it's low in sulfur and still puts out about 7,800 British thermal units per pound.
It's great in power plants.


[See story]

Observations of Rondy Rail Fair Second Week NLMRR Club - 3/1/06
Submitted by One Eyed Jack

Northern Lights Model Railroad Club and the Alaska Northern Railway

Observations by One Eyed Jack February 24, 25, 26, 2006

Come and Rondy at Rondy Rail Fair

Your observer is pleased to report the FRA* guy would be overjoyed with the performance of the ANRy crews and equipment during the rush of business occasioned by Rondy Rail Fair. Everyone pitched in to keep the trains running for an appreciative group of railfans responding to an aggressive promotional plan executed by the management at the Harrisville Daily Democrat.

On Friday evening, Mark Earnest, Superintendent of the Whittier Subdivision, brought in 6 SD70 Mac locomotives for shakedown trips. Three 4000 and three 4300 units, all Overland products. Mark has cornered the market on brass locomotives. He has a weekness for covered grain and bulk hoppers. When ever he observes a unique style of covered hopper go by his office in Whittier he starts a hunt for an HO version. The string is getting impressive and I expect he will be running unit Barley trains from Delta as soon as the tracks are extended into the Alaska grain basket.

Matt Abbey and his executive assistant, Emily, are keeping up with the unprecedented demand for deliveries by the beer train. That cut of cars has been seen all over the railroad and as yet no clear picture of the upward trend in business has developed. Is it just a bump caused by Rondy or is the presence of the Prez responsible? You would think that his own provision car and one of those 35K gallon ARL tank cars would meet at least the personal needs of the Prez.

Jeff DeBroeck was busy under ground repairing infrastructure at the Richland Yard. Two new turnout motors were put in service and Richland Yard returned to life. Jeff, has become by default the Master Switch Maintainer. His grasp of the complexities involved may be over rated however, since he commented on the nice color coding of the burried cables. My observations reveal the wires change color at least every 18 inches for no apparent reason. He wants to attack the Y in Johnstown next.

Rondy Rail Fair traffic was so brisk that Management was recruiting student engineers from among our younger visitors. After a short orientation on the layout and two observation trips, a student was put in charge of the Arron Star Jennings Denali Star passenger train. He did a fantastic job including all the FRA* required grade crossing and station whistle signals.

Officials from other rail organizations have been sending observers to the ANRy. An official of the O gauge Collectors was given a tour by President Durand of the ANRy. Feedback was most complementary of the ANRy hospitality and the advanced technology being used in the furtherance of our mandated mission while meeting all FRA* requirements. An invitation was extended to O Gaugers who may be interested in an interchange arrangement or tour of the Alaska Northern Railway.

Director of Communications, Captain Kirk, reports four locomotive radios are in good conditon if traffic requires them. The microwave system is in operation between the EDC operators desk and the communications shack at the East end of Johnstown Yard. Just push the call button and then talk button at either end to raise an operator. These message will be given prioity over the old Hill Billy telegraph system otherwise known as Hollerin in the Holler.

On Saturday Rondy Rail Fair became profitable! After the third day of operations Fred, the bean counter, reports that donations have covered the advanced investment of $350.00 made in Rondy advertising. With all the additional staffing required and the overtime and holiday pay there are some who question the wisdom of such a commitment to 6 days of Rondy Rail Fair. Considering the FRA" mandate to introduce new people to the hobby of Model Railroading there is no better investment. The ANRy Rondy activity has become a family tradition with many of our visitors and the smiling faces are worth the extra effort.

Greeters in the viewing area are in large part responsible for the steady stream of deposits in the donation box. A hardy "Welcome aboard" and willingness to engage in conversation turns a passive visit into an event that folks can participate in and sets the stage for their return. Good humor and family banter leaves the message that Model Railroading is the Worlds Best Hobby and we do not have to take life too seriously. Why is that chicken in the middle of the road? Please thank, Ted, Fred, Bill, and Kirk for extended duty as greeters.

Dick Ayers, Bruce Headle and Pat Durand were the Loco Engineers on call but there were lots of other members dropping in and out of the Bull Pen to keep trains running all weekend. Captain Kirk was always on call at the Boomer Bob Engelbach Dispatch Center to assist with clearing addresses and sending out the TV crew for special events. On local control the crews are working out the communications needed to smooth operations. The courtesy of using the "mounting tracks" and the appreciated occasional admission "It's me." when the DCC system shuts down as a result of a short induced by a derailment or lack of turnout awareness, are very important. These occasional disruptions should be viewed as a learning process and they will become less frequent as these experiences are shared.

One young observer requested information on "How do you get a Job here?" Is it time to create an application for employment? Maybe just a membership application would be appropriate?

Rondy Rail Fair Steam EXPO opened on Sunday February 26, 2006. All Diesel locomotives were pulled from the line and Steam Locomotives were placed at the head of all trains. Extra temporary tracks were laid in the Johnstown Yard and the former lumber yard property for visiting steamers. Those with DCC were parked on powered tracks and placed in service for occasional runs.

The EX Copper River and Northwestern Consolidations from the Killoran Road have proven to be smart performers. Both the Denali Star and the Canadian National Passenger trains operated all day behind these big 2-8-0 steamers. The Alaska Railroad Heritage Steam Program provided #801 Light Mountain to power the Ore Train. ARR Pacific #901 headed up a peddler freight as did Mogul #601. All these locomotives provided the ambience of steam sounds, bells, whistles and occasional comments from Fireman Fred as he tried to keep up with the heavy hand of Engineer Dick, "Grandpa" Ayers. SnowRiver Logging Co's three truck Shay, 5 Spot, made numerous trips over the adjacent branch line with long freight consists meeting the ANRy obligations for timely deliveries for our faithful customers.

Some of the equipment joining the ANRy steam roster for Rondy Rail Fair Steam EXPO

ANRy Locomotives:
Atlantic 4-4-0 #57
Articulated 2-8-8-2 #1475
Consolidation 2-8-0 #28
Switcher 0-4-0 #9

The Alaska Railroad Heritage Steam Fleet:
Ex US Army 2-8-0 ARR #402
Alco 0-4-2 ARR #1 ( The real #1)
Ex Panama 2-6-0 ARR #601 Mogul
Ex NP 2-8-2 ARR #751
Ex NP 0-6-0 ARR #301 the Anchorage Yard Switcher
Ex US Army 0-6-0 ARR #315
Light Mountain 4-8-2 ARR #801 the Largest Locomotive ever on the ARR
Light Pacific 4-6-2 ARR #901 the most modern steamer on the ARR
Nome Arctic Railway Climax A #213 Three foot gauge

SP Mogul M-31 2-6-0 #656
SP Daylight Northern 4-8-4 and SP observation car
Ex ATSF Consolidation 2-8-0 Portage and Decision #501
ATSF Consolidation 2-8-0 #1083
SnowRiver Logging Co. Three Truck Shay #5
Copper River and Northwestern Consolidation #27
Copper River and Northwestern Consolidation #26
Copper River and Northwestern Mike # 79
Steam Rotary Snow Plow #3
Hogwarts Express
White Pass Mike #73 Standard Gauge Div.
Warehouser 0-6-0 #4

The Grand Parade of Steam (Just like Vancouver Steam EXPO of 1986) was scheduled for 1400 hours. Unfortunately an incident on the Bayview Station platform squashed the entire party. Bambi Moonbeam Kavishnakoff surfaced once again representing PETA with a Howl In objecting to the Rondy Fur Auction being held in the parking lot at the Bayview Station. She appeared in her trade mark Sunshine Yellow string bikini just as the Hogwarts express was clearing her stack. An air born cinder landed on Bambi's polyester top and the Prez tried to put out the conflagration with a well thrown Prince William Sound High Ball.

Submitted by One Eyed Jack, single eyed witness to railroad history.

These Observations have been cleared for system wide distribution by Patrick J. Durand , President NLMRR Club

*FRA - Fun in Railroading Administration

Refinery threatens shutdown - 2/26/06
Anchorage Daily News

The owner of the state's largest crude oil refinery has threatened to shut down the plant unless it gets a major financial concession from the state.

State officials say Flint Hills Resources, operator of the refinery at North Pole, is asking for a break that could cost the state up to $100 million.

[See story]

Northern Lights Model Railroad Club report - 2/22/06
Submitted by One Eyed Jack

Northern Lights Model Railroad Club members and friends:

The Staff photographer from the Harrisville Daily Democrat finally developed some pictures from the past weekend. These photos have been cleared for system wide distribution and you can do any darn thing you want with them. Captions are as follows:

Passengers waiting to board one of several Charter Trains bound for Rondy Rail Fair. The Hogwarts Express was on standby at the Bayview Stub to run as an extra section if needed.

This is the view from the 13th floor of the palatial ANRy office tower over looking Beer Can Cove. The car barge has arrived at the float and you can see the ANRy Corporate Beaver at the landing. Treasurer Fred Park has been pressed into service at the Tomolva switchman's shanty.

Rondy Rail Fair has proven to be such a magnet that even the Prez came to town. Here you can see he has cut some sort of deal with Shane Durand to have his provisions car and the business car Alaska cut in behind one of the Alaska Rail Link SD90MAC Super Cat units. Rumors abound as to what the 35k gallon tanks are actually hauling. As an aside, please note that in spite of global warming warnings and Mt. St. Augustine ash, the famous South Glacier is not receding.

Surplused passenger cars - 2/22/06
Submitted by Stewart Sterling
Just a note that I [was at] Alaska Metal recyclers and did not see the two [ex-Amtrak] stainless ex diner cars. I asked about them and was told they were knocked on their sides and then cut up. The double deck blue and gold car is still there but time is running out for it too.
1503 status - 2/21/06
Submitted by an anonymous source
Number 1503 was sold to National Railway. It has not yet left the state.
Snow slides - 2/21/06
Submitted by Robert Krol
Here's some pictures out of my new Canon Digital Rebel XT. I went to Anchorage today to find some trains for you. The snow slides are along the Seward Highway, down by Girdwood. photo 1, photo 2
Railroad chief sees bridge as natural part of transport artery - 2/15/06
Anchorage Daily News

The view from the third-floor corner office at the main office of the Alaska Railroad Corp. is purely industrial, all railroad yard and busy port.

But Patrick Gamble fixes his eye on the shallows of Ship Creek, where the salmon run each spring.

His office space is open, spare and flooded with outside light. Visitors sink into big leather chairs. The man himself is large, his face angular with a determined yet thoughtful look.

[See story]

Usibelli's bounteous coal - 2/10/06
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Anyone want to buy some coal? It's subbituminous, so it's not the best quality, but it's low in sulfur and still puts out about 7,800 British thermal units per pound. It's great in power plants.

[See story]

Blizzard, avalanches close Seward Highway - 2/9/06
Anchorage Daily News

The Seward Highway is closed between Girdwood and Cooper Landing until at least noon Friday due to blizzard-like conditions, deep snow, powerful winds and at least one road-obstructing avalanche.

"Our crews are fighting extreme weather conditions in the higher elevations," said Jack Fullerton, Department of Transportation Region Chief of Maintenance and Operations. "We'll only re-open the highway when it is safe to do so."

[See story]

Whittier tunnel closed due to rock slide - 1/28/06
Anchorage Daily News

State transportation officials closed the combined highway/railroad tunnel to Whittier on Friday morning to clear debris from a rock slide at about 7 a.m.

"We expect to have the tunnel back up and running by mid-afternoon today," said Jack Fullerton, maintenance and operations chief of the central region for the state Department of Transportation.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad Career Fair - 1/19/06
Submitted by Robert Krol

All Aboard for the Alaska Railroad Career Fair!! In preparation for our summer passenger service season, the Alaska Railroad (ARR) is pleased to announce our upcoming Career Fair. Alaska Railroad Historic Depot 411 West First Avenue January 26, 2006 4:00-8:00 p.m.


Repaired locomotives - 1/19/06
Submitted by an anonymous source

Numbers 3002 and 3004 have been repaired, (not rebuilt) and have been leased to Northshore Northshore [Mining Company in northern Minnesota].

Numbers 2001 and 2006 are currently being overhauled. The remaining units have various defects and will be repaired accordingly. Upon completion, all of these units will be available for lease.

555, 556 and CRM's latest - 1/18/06
Submitted by Jody Moore

I just got back from Ft. Lupton yesterday and figured I would point the way to some photos of Alaska's newest single level cars, 555 and 556. I spent a week out that way working in the plant to finish up the operator's manuals for the new Florida DMUs, and getting started on my next project for them. While I was there, the vestibules on the 555 and 556 began taking shape, and the piping started being laid before installation of the sub floor. As these are the first single levels I have been able to watch taking shape, I was pleased to be there when I was, and found the whole thing educational.

Actually, the plant was in a very interesting state when I was there, as there were project in just about every stage from start to finish at the plant, including: The DMU and trailer, which are leaving for Florida next week and are virtually done save for some minor tweaking; six Princess Tours cars that were at the shop for new interiors, which are coming along nicely; three cars for Rocky Mountaineer, which were nearing completion and were awaiting the arrival of the new seats (while I was there, the equipment doors went on two of them, and a lot of the under-car equipment was installed); our new Alaska twins, which are still in the early stages of finish work; another DMU and trailer for Florida, which were both in the skeleton stage after having their frames and superstructure welded together, and a third DMU that had its upper level and side walls welded together, while the center sill was still in the jigs for fabrication (when I got there, the bolsters and coupler pocket assemblies were just being put together, but it was a whole center sill when I left). The Denali was sitting outside, stripped, but not getting much attention.

All in all, the visit was very interesting. It was the longest time I had spent there, and I was fortunate to be right in the middle of it while things were in full swing. It gave me a real appreciation for the fact that CRM is indeed a working, functioning facility to see the speed at which things can change over a week's time.

Anyhow, updated photos of the 555 and 556 can be found on their roster pages at

http://www.trainweb.org/ultradomes/arr/555.html and


In the next few days, I will upload a photo feature on the state of things while I was there, and that will include a few more pics of the ARR cars. That will be found at


Railways of Alaska - 1/18/06
Submitted by Pat Durand

The February 2006 Issue of Railways Illustrated is now available featuring Railways of Alaska. Internationally noted railroad photographer, Philip Wormald, spent 10 days in Alaska in June of 2005. Philip requested and received clearance from The Alaska Railroad Corp. to photograph the line from end to end. He was hosted in Fairbanks by President of the Friends of Tanana Valley Railroad, Dan Gullickson. On the southern end he was a guest of Patrick J. Durand, Volunteer Rail Curator for the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry. After riding the line, he had an opportunity to visit some out of the way photo locations and captured over 800 images of the railroad.

Railways Illustrated has presented his Alaska Railroad travelog on 6 pages with 13 images. Very well done Philip! You should be able to find Railways Illustrated in larger newstands or you may contact them at www.railwaysillustrated.com

Philip's globe trotting escapades in his personal challenge to photograph every diesel locomotive in the world with a train behind it, can be found here.

Rail system is efficient way to move freight; Alaska ports could grow - 1/10/06
Anchorage Daily News
By Tim Coahran

The "Who's up, Who's down" column on Dec. 31 (discussing Frank) said, "Iron horse was visionary in 1850, when was that ... ?" implying that it's not useful today.

That may be true if you're discussing fashion statements, but in terms of America's freight transportation infrastructure (which is absolutely vital to our economy), the comment is incorrect.

Rail provides the lowest cost (and fuel consumption) per ton-mile of any form of land transportation except pipelines. If just one heavy train per day were removed, making up the difference would require the daily addition of literally hundreds of tractor-trailer rigs (and their associated wear) on our busy highways.

Regarding the long dreamt of link to the North American rail system, consider all the Daily News articles about long delays and overcrowding in major West Coast seaports. Their bottleneck is in moving the freight inland, off the docks. Such a link would make us one of them, and take some load off the others. As the closest one to Asia, we would be instantly jammed to capacity. Seward and Whittier would likely follow. It is a matter of opinion whether that is something we would want.

Routing forum to give insight on track plans - 1/10/06
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The Alaska Railroad Corp. is moving ahead with plans to reroute its tracks from Fairbanks to North Pole and Eielson Air Force Base. The realignment would eliminate 20 to 30 road crossings and cut travel times by two-thirds.

The public is invited to learn more about the project and to voice any concerns at an Alaska Railroad project open house Wednesday in Fairbanks.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad unveils new print - 1/8/06
by Natasha Rasheed 

All aboard, the 2006 print has been released for the Alaska Railroad. This year's print features an Alaska Railroad locomotive pulling passenger cars through the wintry background of Alaska. Mount McKinley can also be seen in the distance.

[See story]

ARR to refurbish baggage cars - 1/7/06
Submitted by Robert Krol
ARR has Refurbishing Baggage Cars out for bid again. Says 256 and 257 are in San Antonio, TX. and the 102 is in Alaska. Number 102 was used on the Whittier Shuttle.
Riding the Ski Train to Backcountry Alaska - 1/4/06
Bonnie Tsui, The New York Times, courtesy Larry W. Grant

Riding the Ski Train to Backcountry Alaska in winter is an intimidating prospect: one characterized by frigid temperatures, long nights and forbidding landscapes blanketed in snow and ice. At 07:00 on a dark winter day last February, when I found myself awake and aboard the Alaska Railroad's annual ski train to Grandview, the sun had yet to rise, and the train was filled with slumbering bodies.

[See story]

Former gubernatorial candidate dies at 73 - 1/4/06
Anchorage Daily News

Jim Campbell, a businessman who turned Spenard Builders Supply into a dozen-store success before he became one of the state's most prominent Republicans, died Monday. He was 73.
Campbell died at Providence Alaska Medical Center after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage at the Anchorage home of his son, Dirk, at a family gathering the day before, said his wife, Kelly.....

He was the first chairman of the Alaska Railroad, a money-losing line under federal ownership that he helped turn around after the state took it over.....

[See story]

Hornby to reissue HO scale Alaska passenger cars - 1/1/06
Submitted by Bob Garner
Just opened the new Model Railroader and saw an item on page 9 about Hornby, who bought Rivarossi, reissuing the HO scale Alaska passenger cars. This will be the set and individual dome and coach. Go to www.hornby.com.



Page created 1/1/06 and last updated 4/3/06